The rise of China in Africa has triggered an ongoing debate about whether Chinese capital is a barrier that entraps African governments in practices that hinder poverty reduction.
The most recent contribution to these debates is a book by a professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Ching Kwan Lee. The book is based on Lee’s ethnographic study in the copper and construction industries in Zambia. It interrogates Chinese state capital in relation to global private capital.
She argues that the terms frequently used in the discussion about Chinese capital in Africa—such as empire building, colonialism and hegemony—are limiting. They don’t allow for the interrogation of the actual behavior, practices and possibilities of Chinese capital.
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